Mac Lawton plans his vacations each year to start on Wednesday and end on Tuesday.
Back a number of years ago, Lawton made commitment to the 567 Club, and Tuesdays are a regularly scheduled appointment on his calendar that he doesn't miss.
"It's been a lifetime commitment," Patty Lawton said of her husband's volunteer work.
It was because of that commitment and dedication to serving others, that suddenly Mac Lawton found himself standing center stage early Saturday morning at the Mission Action Challenge Ride and Run, a charity fundraiser that has been held the last five years to honor Lawton's life and to raise money for shoe donations for children in Pickens County and for Hope Unlimited, which serves children in Brazil.
As Lawton looked out into the crowd, he started to notice people he recognized and hadn't expected to see so early on a Saturday morning — family, friends and neighbors — were among the riders who had turned out of the start of the bike race organized by Easley First Baptist and 5 Points Church.
Then, it all started to make sense as Sen. Larry Martin stepped forward to present Lawton with the Order of the Silver Crescent, the state's highest honor for volunteer work and community service.
"This is one of the neat things I get to do," Martin said after the presentation. "His work in Pickens County has meant so much to so many."
Patrick Rivers, an organizer for the ride, has known Lawton since Rivers was 12 years old, as a friend of Lawton's son. He said he knew of no one more deserving than Lawton for the recognition.
"He is always thinking of others, always pouring himself into others," Rivers said. "He teaches boys in the 567 Club that they are loved, that they are God's child and that God's got a plan for them and we'll figure out what that plan is together."
It was the 567 Club that had wanted to honor Lawton for the promise that he made and has continued to keep, despite an on-going battle with cancer and rounds of chemotherapy.
Lawton founded the 567 Club about 15 years ago to help provide strong male role models for boys in Pickens County. The boys are referred by teachers, principals, DSS, their parents and family friends for participation in the group. Each Tuesday night, Lawton and a team of volunteers work with eight to 10 boys. They worship together, complete homework, talk and play basketball.
"We started out just by telling them that we love them," Lawton said. "Some of them have never heard that before, just knowing that someone does care about them can make all the difference."
Lawton said he volunteered for a number of years with the Palmetto Boys Home in Greenville before moving to Easley 26 years ago. After 12 years of working with young men through Palmetto Boys Home, Lawton had realized the need for having an environment that fostered love and provided a structured setting for study, fellowship and worship.
"I'll admit, the Lord changed my heart," Lawton said. "I wasn't sure I wanted to do this."
In addition to his volunteer work, Lawton also is a successful businessman as co-owner of Dixie Lumber Co. in Easley.